Sky Graffiti On A Sunny Morning……..‘Monuments Upon the Tumultuous Earth’….. Stories Of the Fate Of Mounds….. On The Subject Of Monuments In the Landscape….Placing Bones….

by Bernie Bell - 07:38 on 28 March 2023

Sky Graffiti On A Sunny Morning……..

Woke up – looked out…


From ‘Emergence’ magazine… https://emergencemagazine.org/

Monuments Upon the Tumultuous Earth

by Boyce Upholt

“Perhaps this is what people learn after thousands of years of living along one of the world’s great rivers: that change is inevitable.”

“The southern Mississippi River has long been shaping the land it traverses—and the structures humans have built along it. With twenty-nine locks and dams controlling the flow of water, the present-day story of this river is largely one of constraint. Even so, the river often refuses to yield to human control. In 2019, the river flooded for 235 consecutive days, and last fall, drought drained the water to historic lows, stranding barges and prompting the military to dredge the riverbed continually for six months.

But along the riverbanks there are remains of much older structures, too, that tell different stories of human relationship with the river. Over vast stretches of time that dwarf the duration of the present American experiment, Indigenous societies were building hundred-foot pyramids, fifty-acre plazas, and intricate clusters of hillocks along this wild waterway. In this essay, seeking to anchor himself in a greater understanding of the region he now calls home, Boyce Upholt charts the shifting course of the river and the civilizations that have emerged alongside it. Beholding the 2,200-mile levee system that now curbs the river’s torrent, he wonders: what do our monuments say about who we are—and the crises we face?“



Stories Of the Fate Of Mounds…






On The Subject Of Monuments In the Landscape….

The Sighthill Stone Circle…as it stands….


I was a bit shocked when I saw the position of the ‘new’ circle – big blocks of flats to one side – generally surrounded by an industrial/urban landscape.  Where can the sight-lines be?

I then thought - well, it’s still keeping up an interest in stone circles, standing stones, and all things associated with them.  That serves a purpose.

Here’s the story so far….



Placing Bones….

I’m reading ‘The Name of the Rose’ by  Umberto Eco – Adso of Melk recalls when he and William of Baskerville enter the monastery’s ossarium… …

But now I was entering an ossarium for the first time, and I was very much afraid.  The monks’ bones had been collected there over the centuries, dug from the earth and piled in the niches with no attempt to recompose the forms of their bodies.  Some niches had only tiny bones, others only skulls, neatly arranged in a kind of pyramid, so that one would not roll over another; and it was a truly terrifying sight, especially in the play of shadows the lamp created as we walked on.  In one niche I saw only hands, many hands, now irrevocably interlaced in a tangle of dead fingers.”

This reminded me of the Neolithic cairns and how it looks like once the required ceremonies had been carried out at the time of death and the flesh was gone - one way or another…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2018/04/28/on-being-more-than-the-sum-of-our-parts/  - the bones were placed in a very similar way as that still taking place millennia later in ossuaries.

William and Adso only have an oil lamp to light them – the effect will have been similar in a cairn, such as Mid-Howe, Rousay ….


…..or The Eagle Cairn, South Ronaldsay….


To name only two – there are many – and possibly many more as yet undiscovered.

As chance would have it, I have a picture sent to us by neighbour Steve of an ossiary in Prague containing an estimated 40 - 70, 000 skeletons.

Pic. courtesy of Steve Davey

Steve went there in daylight.

Imagine – a dark cairn, an oil lamp, flickering….

Andrew Appleby makes a good job of describing what it might have been like to enter one of these often re-used cairns in his ‘Skara’ novels… https://skarabooks.com/

When reading his description I couldn’t help thinking…. ‘Imagine the smell’.  That shows how well he describes it!


Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/12/05/taming-the-stones/



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